Northern California has nearly unlimited areas that are superb for hiking, backpacking, or simply camping. One of these is Point Reyes National Seashore, just 30 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 1. One sweet aspect is that it doesn’t require hours of driving to get there. It is a remarkable coastal land, complete with mountains, redwoods, and waves breaking on rugged sandy beaches. Whether you (and possibly your horse) are looking for day use, or overnight camping, it will easily satisfy your cravings.
Plenty of Trails
This National Seashore has nearly 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging anywhere from nearly one-hour hikes, to hikes up to three hours or longer. There are ten of the shorter hikes, ranging from 0.6 miles up to two miles. For the mid-length hikes, there are seven to choose from, three to five miles in length (though the Bolinas Ridge Trail can be extended out to 22 miles). The seven longer hikes run from seven to thirteen miles.
Plenty of Campgrounds
If you enjoy backpacking into a campground, there are five here, and they’re not a long hike. Each has a feeling of camping along the coast, though you are not on a beach. To give you a sense of capacities: Coast Camp has twelve individual sites and two group sites; Glen Camp has twelve sites, no groups; Sky Camp, at an elevation of 1025 feet, has eleven individual sites and one group site; Tomales Bay boat-in camping has several permitting options, ranging from individual sites to groups of 7-14 people and groups of 15-25 people; Wildcat Camp has five individual sites and three group sites.
Bring Your Horse Along, Too
Speaking of Wildcat Camp, it is one of the campgrounds where you can bring your horse. If you decide to bring your high-spirited Arab, or that sweet Paint (horse), know that there are rules and regs to consider (mostly common sense, really). You will need to check which trails are okay for the equestrian, including if there are closures for certain days of the week. One fun aspect of Wildcat includes waking up at night and seeing a Ring-Tailed Cat ((insert photo, please, from your stock)) with its big eyes, staring back at you. Alamere Falls, which empties on the beach, is also in walking distance.
Point Reyes is a popular area. Don’t expect to have it to yourself. It’s smart to check the National Park Service “Plan Your Visit” section of the Point Reyes website well in advance of your trip, especially if you want a campsite. Also, don’t forget there are herds of Tule Elk at the northern end of the park, up by Tomales Point. There’s no guarantee you will see the elk, but you might if likely if you persevere.
Point Reyes National Seashore—just go! And if you’re hungry before or after, the town of Point Reyes Station has some delightful restaurants.